Deep Listening Walks
In May 2019, Kathy Hinde invited people to join her on a ‘Deep Listening Walk’ to focus on the hidden sounds of Europe’s largest blanket bog in The Flow Country in the far north of Scotland. Using specialist listening devices such as hydrophones, she made audible the sonic qualities of peat gently moving, and tuned in to the minuscule sounds emitted by small organisms living within this rich and biodiverse ecosystem. Blanket bog is a very special ecosystem, and the idea of ‘Deep Listening’ in this context was to listen into the peat at different depths, and to think about listening ‘back in time’ as these deep layers of peat have taken centuries to form, preserving organisms within its layers. What is it like to listen to these layers and different depths that hold deep time?
This residency at The Flow Country was part of her research into creating immersive audio-visual artworks and experiences in order to engage people with environmental issues through embodied and experiential knowledge. Kathy has been inviting people on ‘Listening Walks’ for many years, the earliest being the creation of her online, interactive and participatory birdsong sound map Twitchr, launched in 2009. She is motivated to share her passion for deep and focused listening, in order to encourage a wider interest in audio ecology. Her reference to the act of ‘Deep Listening’ intentionally references the valuable work of late composer Pauline Oliveros and her development of, and advocacy of the practice of ‘Deep Listening‘.
This particular ‘Deep Listening Walk’ was part of a Cryptic commission to create audio-visual installations to raise awareness of the importance of blanket bog, for Cryptic’s production ‘Below the Blanket’ at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh, August 2019 as part of the Peatland Partnership’s ‘Flows to the Future’ project with RSPB Scotland as lead partner.
Below – Kathy Hinde ‘Bog Listening’ filmed and edited by Chas Ross for BBC Scotland, May 2019.
Followed by a compilation of sound recordings from the bog, and photos by Murdo MacLeod (also header photo), and James Cook.